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Map to the future - The Business Journal

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From the The Business Journal: http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/stories/1996/12/23/story1.html

Map to the future Downtown groups explore initiatives to revitalize city The Business Journal - by Mike Dries Date: Sunday, December 22, 1996, 11:00pm CST In cities across America, from Portland, Ore., to Philadelphia, from St. Paul, Minn., to San Antonio, businesses, governments and civic organizations are devising ways to revitalize their downtowns. Milwaukee is no exception. Locally, a number of new initiatives are being considered, inspired in part by a spate of civic, commercial and residential development downtown. The initiatives include creating a business management district that would encompass all of downtown. Another option is a proposal from the Milwaukee Department of City Development (DCD) that the city fund creation of a master plan for downtown development. Also, a downtown market study conducted by the Milwaukee public relations firm ZigmanJoseph-Stephenson is being completed and is targeted for release in March 1997. The study, funded by East Town Association Inc., Westown Association Inc., Historic Third Ward Association Inc. and DCD, was conceived more than two years ago to develop ways to recruit and retain downtown businesses. The initiatives are timely. There's widespread agreement that downtown Milwaukee needs a shot in the arm. For more than 35 years, since the interstate highway system moved into the area, population density downtown has steadily declined, from a high of 8,000 people per square mile to 4,000 people today. Milwaukee is not alone in that regard. "We have let urban sprawl determine the shape of our cities," said Milwaukee architect David Kahler. "(Milwaukee's) downtown, for all intents and purposes, has been vacated. Right now we have only attorneys and utilities there." It's that trend that concerns people. Reversing it has become a priority. "Downtown is the heart of Milwaukee," said Franklyn Gimbel, chairman of the Wisconsin Center District Board, the body guiding development of the city's new convention center. "If you have a weak heart, the body isn't going to work." The $170 million Wisconsin Center, the first phase of which is scheduled to be completed in mid-1998, is one of the projects spurring renewed interest in downtown Milwaukee. The $25 million addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum, designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, is another.

http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/stories/1996/12/23/story1.html?s=print

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Map to the future - The Business Journal

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Other catalytic developments include the riverwalk, which has already generated new retail and residential development downtown; the recently completed Humphrey IMAX Dome Theater; and the newly remodeled Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. A number of downtown housing projects are also scheduled to get underway in 1997, including City Hall Square at North Water and East Mason streets and Westown Village Apartments between North Seventh and North Eighth streets and West Wisconsin Avenue and West Wells Street. "We're at the beginning of what, in the next 10 years, will prove to be one of the most remarkable development cycles in the history of downtown Milwaukee," said William Hanbury, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Milwaukee Convention & Visitors Bureau. Already, downtown Milwaukee comprises the highest concentration of real estate values in the state, said Jon Wellhoefer, executive vice president of the Milwaukee Redevelopment Corp., a nonprofit development consortium of 40 Milwaukee-area corporations. "Downtown also gives off the area's biggest image signal," Wellhoefer said. To assure that that signal is strong, Wellhoefer and a small group of downtown businessmen began meeting informally more than a year ago to discuss the possibility of creating a downtown business management district, modeled conceptually after Philadelphia's Center City District (CCD). The district would be functionally equivalent to a business improvement district, or BID, meaning commercial property assessments would fund the agreed-upon objectives of the district. In Philadelphia, more than 2,000 property owners, commercial tenants and employers in the city's downtown joined together to form the CCD. After more than a year of planning, the initiative was launched in the spring of 1991. Property owners voted to fund the CCD through assessments equal to 5 percent of their property tax bills, said Paul Levy, the CCD's executive director. In the last year alone, crime in the Center City District dropped 22 percent, while building values continued to climb and business boomed. The project has received national attention. The message: "If you want to improve your downtown, you have to do it yourself," Levy said. About a year ago, Towne Realty Inc., Milwaukee, provided funding to hire Levy to consult with the group that included Wellhoefer, members of the Westown Association and others who had gotten together to consider options for improving downtown. "We started the push toward a management district as a result of a focus group we had brought together to help identify what some of the perception problems were downtown," said Thomas Bernacchi, president of Westown Association and vice president of the commercial property division of Towne Realty.

http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/stories/1996/12/23/story1.html?s=print

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Map to the future - The Business Journal

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After visiting the city and talking to a number of business leaders, Levy prepared an outline for a downtown Milwaukee business management district. The plan called for a first phase that would address two objectives: sanitation and safety. The centerpiece of the first phase would be the deployment of a team of "street ambassadors," uniformed personnel who would direct visitors to points of interest and communicate with police should the need arise. "The approach we envision is to look at downtown as one large mall, which is the approach that the city of Philadelphia took," said Shelby Lozoff, a Milwaukee real estate agent who participated in the preliminary discussions. The district envisioned is a long way from being created. Budgets have to be worked out and boundaries defined. Right now the area being considered would extend from Interstate 43 on the west to Lake Michigan on the east. The north and south boundaries are less clear. Consensus building The next and likely most challenging step will be to form a consensus among downtown property owners that the value of creating a business management district will exceed its costs. "The coalition that will be required has yet to be built," Bernacchi said. "It's going to take the cooperation of every organization downtown. Not everyone is going to be happy. It's going to cost something, but the benefits will far outweigh the costs." Everyone who has participated in discussions about the creation of the business management district emphasized the importance of involving as many people as possible. "The more the merrier," said public relations executive Michael Mervis. "This is about inclusion, not exclusion. If this is going to work, we have to have the cooperation of everyone with a stake in downtown." Expectations are high in that regard. Some said they feel a sense of cohesion is developing among downtown business owners. A shared sense of purpose has emerged. "We've been in on the discussions on the business management district," said Timothy Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce. "I think the property owners would see some return on that sort of investment. On the other hand, I don't think the (district) should be used to reduce the level of city services." City officials view the various initiatives being considered as complementing each other, not conflicting. DCD director Michael Morgan called the concept of creating a downtown business management district "an excellent idea." "We need to build a consensus for the future. The question is, how do we do that?" Morgan said. Master development plan

http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/stories/1996/12/23/story1.html?s=print

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Map to the future - The Business Journal

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Planning is essential. Last summer, the Milwaukee Common Council approved DCD's request for funding to start the process of developing a master development plan for downtown. On July 12, the council authorized $20,000 to enable DCD to solicit preliminary proposals from urban planning firms from around the country. That amount was supplemented with $10,000 from the Milwaukee Redevelopment Corp. (MRC). "We need to build a consensus on what we want the downtown to look like," Morgan said. "We need to understand better what the development opportunities are. We need to check our rules of engagement with the private sector." DCD planning director Peter Park called the process of obtaining preliminary proposals a "scoping exercise." Interested firms were instructed to form multidisciplinary teams, including at least one local firm, Park said. In all, DCD received more than 25 proposals. MRC participated in their review. After that, DCD and MRC established a short list of five teams that were charged with coming to Milwaukee to "look at the fiscal setting of the downtown and the nearby neighborhoods," Park said. Representatives of each team came to Milwaukee at least twice. Each of those teams then submitted a preliminary analysis of how they would approach the creation of a downtown development plan. At press time, DCD was summarizing those submissions for the Common Council, expecting to deliver a report to the council by Dec. 20, Park said. In that report, DCD will express its and MRC's preference for the preliminary plan submitted by a team headed by A. Nelessen Associates Inc., a Princeton, N.J., urban planning firm. (See related story on page 10.) Nelessen's team includes Uihlein Architects, Milwaukee. At this time, DCD hasn't yet asked the Common Council to fund the creation of a plan. As a result, contract negotiations with the Nelessen team haven't begun, nor has the scope of services been fully defined. "We need to determine how best to present to our policy makers the need for an allinclusive downtown plan," Morgan said. DCD officials declined to disclose what level of funding they would request from the Common Council, except to say it would be in the low six figures, a portion of which would come from other sources. A formal request likely will be submitted to the council during the first quarter of 1997, Park said. If approved, the creation of the plan would take about a year. When in place, the plan would provide developers with a clearer sense of what the city's development strategy entails, a matter Park said is of foremost importance. Soliciting the contributions of developers and others will play an important role in drafting the plan. "The private sector builds a city. While we plan, it's very important that the private sector is involved," Park said.

http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/stories/1996/12/23/story1.html?s=print

25/07/2011

Profile for arcVision

22 december 2006  

Maptothefuture

22 december 2006  

Maptothefuture

Profile for arcvision
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